The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Conference for Scotland has become a landmark event for organisations from all sectors of Scotland’s economy to achieve equity and inclusion in the workplace and this year’s event will take place on Wednesday, 24 May in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow.
As in previous years it will be attended by individuals with a passion for diversity who represent businesses, large and small, the public and third sector, and who want to share knowledge and gain the latest insights on how to level the playing field and make the workplace a supportive environment for everyone.
In some cases that may involve tackling hidden issues and opening up discussions about conditions that are seldom talked about or even recognised as barriers to employment or advancement in the workplace.
The opening session of this year’s conference will be led by Vicky Bawa, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at BAE Systems, one of the conference sponsors, whose topic will be Maintaining Momentum – Pushing Through the Barriers.
Vicky will be talking about the need for continual improvement and why settling for some measure of change is not enough. It’s a topic for which she and BAE systems demonstrated their own commitment when in last year’s The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Awards, held in October, they won the ‘Diversity Campaign of the Year’ award for a project that made the menopause a subject for open discussion within their own organisation.
With women making up 23% of BAE’s 35,000-strong workforce, Vicky said that there was a real demand for more support and information, not just for female employees, but also for male colleagues and managers who were, for the most part, unaware of the symptoms, their wider effects and of how to open a discussion about them.
The campaign involved producing a guide, using personal stories from staff about their own experiences of the menopause, raising awareness and breaking through taboos so that managers felt confident about helping employees with issues arising from symptoms.
“Women within the organisation were keen from the beginning, and whilst some men did take more convincing at the start, we have seen a real shift in attitudes and in those coming forward to undertake menopause training,” says Vicky.
“At the outset women were telling us “the manager is a man, he won’t understand what I am talking about” while men were saying “I don’t see what is in it for me” or “I don’t know anything about this”, and those conversations have changed.
BAE Systems didn’t stop when they launched the Pause for Thought Network, and went on to become an accredited menopause-friendly employer. The company is now working on fresh policies that will improve their employee offer – in effect, maintaining momentum and pushing through barriers.
And there are good business arguments for doing this. One in four women will experience serious menopause symptoms and one in 10 will leave their jobs, reduce their hours or pass up on promotion because of these at a time when their skills and experience are essential to the organisations for which they work.
“We launched our campaign because we wanted to support our female employees and to encourage them from leaving the business when they had so much to give,” says Vicky.
In doing so, BAE Systems has tackled a hidden inequality in the workplace, made managers more confident in dealing with employees who have issues and given their female staff the reassurance that their problems with the menopause will be taken seriously. The company is committed to ensuring that women don’t have to struggle with this in silence.”
Full details of The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Conference for Scotland, also sponsored by Diageo, sportscotland, and supported by CMS, can be found at https://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/the-diversity-conference/